Why I'm not on FaceBook (and not likely to join)

FaceBook has gotten big lately. I mean really, really big. So big, that it strains credulity that there might be people who choose not to connect with all their friends, loved ones, friends of loved ones, enemies, frenemies, and that one person you met on vacation and friended but don't really know but are too nice to unfriend. How can people not want to join this amazing thing?

Many are concerned about FaceBook's shoddy privacy and security, and rightfully so. But frankly I'm enough of a nobody that there really isn't anyone particularly interested in invading my privacy. Maybe a few companies who want to sell me crap, but they've got way more creative ways of tracking me than what I "Like" on FB. So it isn't privacy or security that keeps me away. Is there any other valid reason to come off as a snob to people when you refuse to join so you can friend them. I don't know about the validity, but I'll tell you my reasons:

1. Despite the massive user-base, FaceBook is not the internet. When people upload pictures to FB they're only available to other FaceBook users. Non-members are prevented from seeing them and Google is prevented from indexing them. Now, this does give some control over who can see the embarrassing pics, but it also forces outsiders to join just to see the latest baby pics in the family, or what have you. When I put photos online I want people to see them, whoever wants to, and as many as want to. Why would I choose to make things less accessible just so I can count the Likes and read comments on my "Wall"? On my websites anyone with a browser can see all that I post, no sign-up or sign-in necessary.

2. I'm an old timer on the internet, and I predate modern social networking sites. To my generation the net itself is our social network. We link to our friends on our blogs, help promote their work, and write about what we like or dislike rather than click a "Like" button. Although I blame the users more than the company for this, I think FaceBook has shallowed the content pool of the web by moving many of the less popular bloggers--the people who normally write about their cat, but occasionally say something brilliant--to a place where they only write on friend's Walls and update their status. We started as a network of individualists who hyperlinked ourselves together (yes an oversimplification, but true enough here); whereas Facebook doesn't mind individuals, so long as they join the right groups to represent their individuality.

3. The best internet advice I've ever heard. It is a little languagy, but profound, it might just change your life, so be ready: Own your own shit. It is important, even if it doesn't seem to warrant the build up I gave it. When I upload or write on FaceBook, I own what I create, but they sorta do too. And it's their website. If they don't like what I post, they can yank it. If someone flags my profile for saying "shit" they can close my profile or make it adult only. If they got sued into oblivion or broken up for anti-trust violations and shut down, everything I did there could be obliterated. Right now I pay Dreamhost to host my websites. I can post whatever I want, and more importantly I can backup everything I've posted. If Dreamhost ever shut down or boots me, I can go to literally thousands of other hosts and upload my websites and no one would notice more than a day or so of downtime. I could host it out of Sweden if (God and Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid) the Palin Presidency outlaws non-Republican websites. I can even buy a server and host out of my own house if I want to. That is what is meant by owning your own shit. I'm working to create content for myself that no one can take away, I don't have to rely on some giant company which I don't entirely trust to keep the things I create publicly available.

The nail in the coffin. I'm lazy. If I were a more ambitious person I may be able to spend time on my own websites and still use FaceBook. The best of both worlds, having my own websites for content and still connecting with friends and family. The problem being that more time on FB means less time blogging or taking pictures, and I know myself well enough to know I'm far too lazy to do both things reliably.

So, find me here, or follow me on Twitter (@aristeos), but don't bother looking for me on FaceBook.